I have been looking around for quite a while trying to identify a car to talk about here, a model that could reflect the nature of this blog and its author, lost in between an Italian background and the passion for British car making tradition. I think I eventually found one, and that's the Triumph Italia.
To talk about the Italia, I could rely on the information available here and there on the Web, but I rather decided to reach out to one of the owners of the very few Italias ever made, and the even fewer still surviving in Italy. His support has been instrumental to this post, and although I will keep his name confidential, I want to thank him for that. What's important here is that through a valuable contribution like the one from this gentleman I can now tell you a proper story of driving and restoration passion, rather than opting in to a dry, Wikipedia-like report on a car model.
So this is how the #119th chassis of a 1961, steel bodied, Michelotti designed, and Vignale manifactured Triumph Italia looks like:
|courtesy of Ugutsinda on Flickr|
Isn't she a beauty? I don't know how to define it otherwise.
The Triumph Italia was actually inspired by my very same research for a well balanced mix between "Italian Art, and British sportscar technique" from its creator, the Naples-based Triumph dealership owner Mr. Ruffino. I like the idea of keeping that spirit alive.
The history of the example featured in this post has very interesting ramifications, too.
The car has been sold new in Livorno Tuscany, and it only had 3 owners, the latest ownership having lasted for 15 years, before being sold to the current gentleman driver who decided to undertake a comprehensive, body-off restoration of the chassis in 2010.
The Italia was designed by Michelotti along the lines used for the Maserati 3500 and others GT produced on an around the late 50ies, built on TR3 engine and mechanics. It could then be assumed that the most part of the spares could be easily located in the Land of Sunshine. Well, that was not the case at all. On the contrary, while the British spares could be easily bought or found on the Web, everything relating to chassis and interiors have been defined by the owner as "practically impossible to spot", then everything that could not be purchased, had to be built from scratch starting from a destroyed sample or pictures available on books, manuals, or on the Web.
And, even more interestingly, guess what part has been elected the most difficult to find on the market? the original ashtray (nothing less), the same that used to be made available on Maserati and Ferrari at the time. It took six months to have it finally installed.